Radiation protection measures are not too strict

Radiation protection in medicine

The medical application of ionizing radiation and radioactive substances has reached a high diagnostic and therapeutic standard in Germany. Both with regard to the indication as well as the quality of the implementation, high demands are made.

Examinations and treatments

Ionizing radiation and radioactive substances have been indispensable tools for examinations and treatment of patients for many decades. A well-known examination method is computed tomography (CT). Treatment methods include, for example, radiation therapy or radioiodine therapy for thyroid diseases.

Since the use of radiation or radioactivity in humans is generally associated with a certain risk, the examining or treating doctor must weigh the benefit against the risk before each use (justifying indication). In addition, it must be checked whether a medical measure without the use of ionizing radiation or radioactive substances, for example ultrasound or magnetic resonance tomography (MRT), cannot also achieve the desired result.

In addition to this obligation to provide an indication, radiation protection law places high quality requirements on the type of implementation and the equipment technology used. In addition, the radiation exposure caused by the application must be reduced to the extent that this is compatible with the requirements of medical science (optimization).

Overall, there is an increasing trend for examinations with X-rays in Germany, which is mainly due to the increase in computed tomography (CT).

Medical research

In the course of the reorganization and modernization of radiation protection law, the radiation protection regulations for medical research of the previous Radiation Protection Ordinance (StrlSchV 2001) and the previous X-ray Ordinance (RöV) have been merged. The regulations for medical research can now be found partly in the Radiation Protection Act and partly in the new Radiation Protection Ordinance. The Radiation Protection Act regulates in particular in which cases the use of radioactive substances or ionizing radiation for the purpose of medical research requires approval and when notification is sufficient. In addition, the modalities of the approval and notification procedure, the requirements for the financial security to be provided and the requirements for the ethics committee involved are regulated. The requirements to be observed when using radioactive substances or ionizing radiation in medical research are primarily contained in the new Radiation Protection Ordinance.

early detection

In Germany, as in many other countries, there is increasing interest in the early detection of non-communicable diseases. This can be combined with examinations using X-rays or radioactive substances (e.g. X-rays, computer tomography). These early detection examinations are a special case of the use of X-rays or radioactive substances on humans, since people without symptoms of illness are examined. For this reason, strict requirements must be placed on early diagnosis examinations.

In Germany, only the use of X-rays for the early detection of breast cancer in women is currently permitted as an early detection examination. In addition to the Radiation Protection Act and the Radiation Protection Ordinance, the provisions of the Ordinance on the permissibility of the use of X-rays for the early detection of breast cancer in women (Breast Cancer Early Detection Ordinance) must be observed.